Samsung Galaxy S21 FE review: It’s worth the wait

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Samsung Galaxy S21 FE

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE
With the Galaxy S21 FE, Samsung is relaunching the best-selling Galaxy S20 FE. Due to the chip crisis, this smartphone came onto the market with a massive delay. Although the phone is convincing in itself, some of Samsung’s decisions stand out negatively – and that doesn’t just mean the price. You can find out how the Galaxy S21 FE performs in everyday life in the test report.

Samsung Galaxy S21 FE in the test: conclusion
Overall, the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE was convincing . The display, the performance, the camera and the battery life are all right. The choice of materials has also improved significantly compared to the predecessor. In addition, there is no more confusion with the processors. There is only the Qualcomm chip and only one version with a 5G modem. If you choose this smartphone, you will get one of the best Samsung devices.

It’s just a shame that you have to make so many compromises when it comes to equipment. You cannot expand the memory, the protective film on the display is missing and there is no power adapter included. At a price of 749 euros, this is a real deterrent. But the wait is worth it. The Galaxy S21 FE will be the perfect smartphone for cheap cell phone contracts. In addition, the price should fall relatively quickly. As soon as the cell phone falls below 600 euros, it is a really good choice .

With the Galaxy S21 FE, Samsung has built an excellent smartphone, but the price still has to drop a little before you can strike without hesitation. But even those who don’t want to wait will be absolutely happy with this mobile phone. It’s just a safe bet . You can’t go wrong here.

Fast and flat AMOLED display
One of the highlights of the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE is without a doubt the display. With the predecessor you could still see a qualitative difference to the Galaxy S20. The new version is on par with the Galaxy S21. At 6.4 inches, it’s slightly larger than the screen in the Galaxy S21 and smaller than the Galaxy S21 Plus. In my opinion, this makes it the perfect size , especially since the smartphone is also relatively light. Of course, it is a 120 Hz panel, and you can feel its high refresh rate directly. The 120 Hz mode is activated directly from the factory.

In general, I am positively surprised by the display of the Galaxy S21 FE. This was still a small sticking point with the Galaxy 20 FE. Samsung didn’t save here and installed a very fast, colorful and bright panel . Although the sun rarely shines at the moment, outdoor readability is excellent. The only pity is that there is no longer a protective film applied for protection. That was the case with the predecessor.

The fingerprint sensor in the display uses optical scanning. This works, but in my experience it is not as reliable and fast as the in-display fingerprint sensor with ultrasonic technology in the Galaxy S21. But I have to admit that the fingerprint sensor built into the Galaxy S21 FE is one of the best optical solutions that I have come across so far. Compared to the Google Pixel 6 Pro, there are worlds in between.

Material selection significantly improved
Just like the display, the choice of material for the Galaxy S20 FE was still a sticking point. It was made entirely of plastic, which was also not very high-quality. That has changed with the Galaxy S21 FE. You get a smartphone that is equivalent to the Galaxy S21 . The frame is made of metal, only the back including the camera are made of plastic. It also doesn’t feel as cheap as its predecessor.

Although the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE has a very large display and is equipped with a large battery, the smartphone doesn’t really weigh that much. The smartphone only weighs 177 grams . In combination with the rounded frame, the smartphone fits my hand very well. Handling is only disturbed by the fact that the fingerprint sensor is far too deep in the display. This makes unlocking the smartphone more difficult. This is not the case with the normal Galaxy S21. If the fingerprint sensor were about 2 cm higher, this problem would not exist.

Smartphone full of compromises

As already mentioned above, there is no longer a protective film on the display of the Galaxy S21 FE. But that’s not the only point that stands out negatively:

Protective film: You have to buy a protective film that is compatible with the fingerprint sensor. Best of all, the original from Samsung.
Power adapter:  If you want to charge the Galaxy S21 FE, you must either already have a USB-C power adapter or buy one now. Samsung only puts a USB-C to USB-C cable in the box.
Storage:  The internal storage can no longer be expanded using a microSD card. You can still use two Nano SIM cards, but the memory is fixed. So before you buy it, you should think twice about getting the 256 GB version. If you need more memory, you can forget the smartphone.
3.5 mm jack connection:  You cannot connect normal headphones to the Galaxy S21 FE. Samsung does not include USB-C headphones either. So you either buy one with Bluetooth or a USB-C connection if you want to use headphones.

Personally, I don’t like this whole development at all. If a smartphone costs 749 euros in RRP, I can at least expect a protective film and a power supply. Samsung probably sees it differently.

High performance with Qualcomm chip

Samsung only offers the Galaxy S21 FE in Germany with a 5G modem and Qualcomm Snapdragon 888 processor. This is an unusual choice, because the Galaxy S21 is offered in Germany with the Exynos 2100 processor from Samsung. The performance is good in any case , even if there is already a successor with the Snapdragon 8 Gen 1. 6 GB of RAM is also completely sufficient. We’ll have to wait and see what that will look like in 2 to 3 years. If you want to be on the safe side, it is better to get the version with 8 GB RAM and 256 GB internal memory, which is only about 70 euros more expensive.

Whether in the operating system, games or apps, the Galaxy S21 FE always feels fast – which is also due to the 120 Hz display. Even when setting up and installing apps at the beginning, there were no stutters. This is where the Snapdragon 888 shows its full potential .

First Samsung smartphone with Android 12

Samsung has already released many updates to Android 12 for various Galaxy smartphones . However, the Galaxy S21 FE is the first model to be factory-equipped with Android 12 and One UI 4.0 . However, the interface still looks very familiar. You have a few more options to customize the smartphone, but overall everything works as usual. You can find your way around immediately, most things are self-explanatory and the software is also very mature.

Samsung’s update policy is now very good. New smartphones receive updates for at least four years – sometimes even longer. Anyone who buys the Samsung Galaxy S21 FE will have several years of peace of mind.

Triple camera convinces

Samsung installs a pretty good camera in the Galaxy S21 FE. Both the main sensor and the telephoto lens are optically image stabilized and ensure that you get razor-sharp photos . The ultra wide angle also takes good photos. You simply get a good package here and don’t have to do without anything. Even low-light photos at night are successful. You have to make a small compromise in the resolution of the telephoto lens. This is only 8 MP. But it also makes good photos. But I wouldn’t zoom more than 10×, because the image quality then suffers a lot. Below are some examples:

Large battery ensures long runtime

A 4,500 mAh battery is installed in the Galaxy S21 FE, which ensures a runtime of noticeably more than a day with intensive use . You don’t have to limit yourself in everyday life. If you use your smartphone a little more sparingly, you can easily get two days. Only a faster loading function would be desirable. The cell phone can be charged via cable and wirelessly. As mentioned, a power supply unit is not included in the scope of delivery.